As a travel writer, photographer and videographer, I rely on my equipment to deliver professional results the first time, every time. For the past few months, I’ve been using the new Sony HDR-PJ650V as my main camera as I go on different assignments and adventures. I use it to record video for my YouTube channel and also to take stills. I’m not shy to discuss my respect for Sony products and have been using them exclusively for the past year or so. Like the other Sony equipment I use, this Handycam uses the latest technology to help me capture my experiences realistically and be more creative in sharing them.
My new go-to camera
I love using the PJ650V Handycam, the size is perfect, it really fits well in my hand. The pro-level features mean I get great shots in any circumstances and can go full manual or full auto, or anything in between. This is also my first experience with a tape-less camcorder and I enjoy having the 32 GB of internal flash memory, offering from two to ten hours of recording, depending on resolution.
The camcorder features Sony’s Balanced Optical SteadyShot which is a revolutionary system that puts a professional quality stabilization system inside the lens assembly. The lens itself sits inside something like a gyroscopic gimbal, moving independently of the camera body movement, like a miniature version of the SteadyCam system used to film movies. You can hold the camera up and look into the lens and see the system at work, holding the lens steady while moving the camera around.
How I use it
As a travel videographer, I’m shooting a lot of establishing shots and that Optical SteadyShot is perfect. I also do a lot of guided tours and this also smooths everything out, it really does operate like a mini-SteadyCam, in terms of the professional quality of the stabilization. I can walk along as someone gives me a tour and the shot is smooth and continuous. The large 3.0″ wide LCD also helps easily frame and track shots. Here’s a video filmed with the camera of my tour of the Captain’s cabin of the legendary Queen Mary. And here’s a video of my suite aboard the Queen Mary, also filmed on the HDR-PJ650V. Here’s a video of ex-Misfits guitarist Doyle visiting Kat Von D at her tattoo studio which shows the great color saturation.
I’ve been doing a lot a lot more product reviews and sit-down interviews for my YouTube channel and for those I set the HDR-PJ650V on a tripod. The colors are vivid and even in low-light situations, the exposure is perfect. Here is a Flickr gallery with some unedited still images I took with the PJ650V.
The technical details
The camera comes with 32 GB internal flash memory and also uses SD cards (and Sony’s MemoryStick media). You get full HD video resolution at 1920 x 1080 at either 30p or 60p for great slow motion effects. Another feature I must point out is the quality of the still images. As with other models, the Sony technology and their proprietary G Lens really capture reality well and I’ve found myself using only the PJ650V for both video and stills, the quality is that good. At 20.4 megapixels the images are large with fantastic detail. Here is also where Sony’s Exmor R CMOS Sensor and their BIONZ image processing technology also shine. The camera has a bright flash, which so many video cameras seem to lack. The Handycam also features a little built-in USB cable, leaving one less thing for me to have to pack and find when I want to connect it to my Ultrabook.
Sound is professional 5.1 Dolby Digital with great surround capability. The technology is very good at detecting the source of sounds, so it works well for me when interviewing people with the camera built-in mic, picking up both my voice and the subject’s.
Sony’s two “wow” features
A 20 lumen, high contrast projector is built into the camera, allowing the content to be shown on a wall or ceiling. The image is quite bright, but best seen in a dark room. Aside from reviewing content from the camera, the HDR-PJ650V has an HDMI input, allowing any source (anything with an HDMI output) to be connected then projected. So yes, I can sit in my hotel room, Bluetooth headphones on, connect my Ultrabook to the PJ650V and project Netflix on the wall. The projector sends the image through a square in the rear of the flip-out screen and the image size is based on the distance from the projection surface.
If that wasn’t enough, the other “wow” feature to me is the automatic highlight reel. Using footage from the day’s shoot, the camera will automatically assemble clips (it’s surprisingly good at picking out highlights), add music and create a little finished sequence. So if you’ve spent the day shooting the family at Disneyland, the camera will . The only drawback is the highlight reel can only be watched on the camera, it can’t be output to other devices.
The accessible professional features on this camera make it a great choice for consumers looking for a better quality video experience and also perfect for pros like me who need a compact camcorder with state of the art technology and optics. The Handycam HDR-PJ650V retails for $1,099.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog luxuryfred.com. You can follow him on Twitter -@luxuryfred and on Instagram – @luxuryfred.
More from this contributor:
Shooting with Sony’s New Wearable Action Cam
Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus: Hotel Review
A Fun Night Out in Istanbul